You've toured Independence Hall, snapped photos of the Liberty Bell, ran up the Art Museum steps, and the pint-sized sightseers in your party are still asking, "Now what?"
Whether you're a Philly lifer or just in the City of Brotherly Love for the weekend, these 10 Philly-area attractions keep little minds (and hands!) busy with a mix of educational and interactive exhibits, unstructured play—even a carousel or two.
Natural history and environmental awareness are on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Founded in 1812, this natural history museum piques the curiosity of youngsters with a wealth of artifacts, specimens, live animals, genuine dinosaur skeletons—even a tropical garden that 150 live butterflies call home. The "Outside In" exhibit is geared specifically to children aged three to eight.
Located in Camden, New Jersey, the Adventure Aquarium's KidZone allows children to get up close and personal with aquatic life via seven unique touch exhibits. A 40-foot tunnel gives visitors of all ages an underwater view of the aquarium's collection of sharks and sea life, all while keeping both feet on dry land.
Since 1934, The Franklin Institute has been instilling a love of technology and science in people of all ages. Inspired by Benjamin Franklin's love of learning, this hands-on facility houses four levels of traveling and continuing exhibits. The first floor, 6,000-square-foot "KidScience" interactive exhibit introduces kids ages five through eight to the four elements.
Situated on one of Philadelphia's five original public squares, Franklin Square provides fun for the whole family. Putt around the 18-hole mini golf course, take a ride on the carousel, then tackle the equipment over at the playground. Cap off your visit with a TastyKake-themed milkshake at SquareBurger.
Now home to 1,300 animals (some rare and endangered) from all over the globe, the Philadelphia Zoo (America's first!) has come a long way since its inception in 1874. More than 1.2 million visitors take a lap around the zoo's 42 acres annually, making this Philadelphia's most popular attraction. Ooh and aah at gorillas, zebras, orangutans, polar bears, tigers and slithery snakes before making your way over to the KidZooU wildlife academy. There, little ones can make the acquaintance of sheep, feathered friends, goats and miniature horses.
The Please Touch Museum inspires learning through interactive play in kids aged seven and under. Spread over two floors, eight exhibits follow themes of public transportation, architecture, space exploration and more, all of which are scaled to pint-sized explorers. The "Wonderland" exhibit is particularly popular, offering Alice in Wonderland-inspired mazes and optical illusions.
Your child's favorite Sesame Street characters have a home at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa., a 30-minute drive from Center City Philadelphia. Open seasonally, this theme park delights visitors of all ages with a medley of amusement park rides, water park attractions, musicals and parades. Kids can steal a hug from Elmo at "Sesame Neighborhood," a life-size recreation of the Sesame Street television show set.
Situated in East Fairmount Park, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse is a century-old play space designed for little ones aged 10 and under. With an emphasis on unstructured play, the indoor playhouse houses 16,000 square feet of toys, while the outdoor playground offers six-and-a-half acres of unique equipment. No visit to the playground is complete without a ride down the Ann Newman Giant Wooden Slide.
Looking for a taste of farm life? Pile the kids in the car and head to Linvilla Orchards, a 300-acre family farm in Media, Pa., about 30 minutes south of downtown Philadelphia. Pick-your-own produce is the draw here, the experience of which is enhanced by hayrides, seasonal attractions and pony rides. Linvilla Orchards is open year-round. (Don't leave without saying hello to the "pet" deer, turkeys, fowl and barnyard animals!)
Hosting more than 7 million items over three levels, Philadelphia's flagship free library has been fostering young bibliophiles since 1927. The largest of Philadelphia's 54 free libraries, the Parkway Central library is home to an expansive children's department that's open seven days a week. Visit the H.O.M.E. Page Cafe to refuel with a sandwich, pastry or cup of coffee.